James Joyce’s Ulysses is universally acclaimed as one of the top 5 books of the 20th century. In fact, I saw it listed as the most important book on several occasions. The story of a day in the life of Leonard Bloom, it marks a shift in literature to the interior world. You don’t have to be an English major to notice the difference in Dickens and Roth and how the reader learns about the characters and world in each of those authors’ works. There are several sources for this change into the inner workings of a character, not the least being Freud, but in literature it came in full bloom (pun intended) in Ulysses.
Joyce’s huge masterpiece traces one day from beginning to end, June 16, 1904. Hence, today, and every June 16th, is Bloomsday. Marked by celebrations worldwide (check out the James Joyce Center for the Dublin extravaganzas), we can all participate regardless of our location. My favorites:
- Follow @11ysses on Twitter for blasts of Ulysses. No worries, the entire book hasn’t been dismantled into 140 character segments. Volunteers from around the world took a section of the book and creatively condensed it into 4 to 6 twitter blasts which are being sent out in 15 minute increments. It’s kind of technology meets the Reader’s Digest Condensed Version of Ulysses.
- Listen to an excerpted reading of Ulysses on Radio Bloomsbury, broadcasts can be heard in LA on KPFK starting at 7PM Pacific Time.
- In Los Angeles, attend the Bloomsday event at the Hammer about the women of Ulysses, both the fictional characters and the women in Joyce’s life.
Want to know more? On September 8th, Literary Affairs will be hosting a master class on Ulysses, watch the website for details.